ILOILO City –After his initial reluctance to the unimpeded return of Ilonggo overseasFilipino workers (OFWs) stranded in Metro Manila, Cebu and elsewhere, MayorJerry Treñas announced yesterday a plan to fetch them – and using a privateairplane. * OFWs shallundergo RT PCR test prior to departure from their immediate point ofentry. Only those whose results are negative will be allowed to depart andaccepted in Region 6. Only Department of Health (DOH)-approved tests shallbe accepted as valid results. OFWs whose testresults are positive would undergo confirmatory tests. The mayorannounced the plan amid criticisms of his being unfair to the OFWs for allowing the return here from Metro Manila of a close associate’sdaughter who turned out positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causesCOVID-19. According tothe mayor, he learned that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)does not have available test kits. Upon theirreturn, the OFWs would be tested for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) usingrapid test kits, he said. * OFWs shallsubmit their COVID-19 real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test resultsfrom their country of origin should it be available. At present, hesaid, the city government has 1,500 rapid test kits. “So I wasterribly mad at OWWA. Waay nagsunod sangprotocol. I told them ‘Yudiputa’ kamo.Indi na ‘ya pwede matabo,’” said Treñas then. “The OFWs should have beentested before going home. We could have saved our frontliners and the rest oftheir fellow passengers from the risk of infection.” On the secondweek of April OWWA shipped to Iloilo City some 40 OFWs stranded in Cebu. Oneeventually tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The OFWs, upontheir return, would also be quarantined for 14 days in three quarantinefacilities here – St. Therese-MTCC Hospital, Diamond Jubilee Hall, andUniversity of Iloilo-PHINMA. Before carrying out his plan,according to Treñas, thenumber of stranded Ilonggo OFWs must first be ascertained so that the citygovernment could procure the needed rapid test kits. Criticsrecalled these statements of Treñas following his decision to allow the return here from Metro Manila of his close associate’s daughterwho turned out positive for SARS-CoV-2. * OFWs arerequired to undergo 14-day quarantine and must be asymptomatic prior todeparture from their immediate point of entry./PN On April 13,the mayor blasted OWWA: “The OFWs should have been tested before going home. Wecould have saved our frontliners and the rest of their fellow passengers fromthe risk of infection.” In ResolutionNo. 12, the task force listed the following conditions that returning OFWs mustmeet “to ensure the general welfare of the repatriates and the safety ofresidents in Region 6”: These threequarantine sites have a combined 300 beds, said Treñas. Treñas’ newplan is a complete turnaround from his previous stance that Ilonggo OFWs mustfirst be tested in their place of origin and must be certified as free fromCOVID-19 before returning to Iloilo. Last week,members of the Western Visayas Regional Task Force (RTF) on COVID-19 drew upprotocols on returning OFWs.
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